Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Explorer of the Seas to begin her test cruise today

29 Oct 2021

Not only is another Royal Caribbean cruise ship restarting sailing today, but a new homeport is making a return as well.

Explorer of the Seas will get limited dry dock in August | Royal Caribbean Blog

Explorer of the Seas will conduct her test cruise on Friday from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It appears the test cruise will run between October 29 to October 31.

Explorer of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart operations from San Juan since it shut down operations in March 2020 due to Covid-19.

Royal Caribbean denies widespread cancellations of Puerto Rico cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Explorer will set sail from Puerto Rico with a seven-night itinerary, stopping in San Juan; St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); St Croix, USVI; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and returning to disembark back in San Juan.

This is another simulated cruises required by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) as part of its phased approach to cruise ships restarting in the United States.

Royal Caribbean has been systematically getting its cruise ships back in service by staffing them up, operating a test cruise, and then once they get approval from the CDC, beginning revenue sailings.

The purpose of a test cruise is to demonstrate to the CDC that the onboard health protocols can work, and keep crew members and passengers safe.


Explorer of the Seas is the latest Royal Caribbean cruise ship to undergo a test cruise, which have been successful on all the other ships that have conducted them.

If the test sailing goes well, Explorer of the Seas could be ready for her first scheduled voyage on November 7.

What happens on a test cruise?

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships visited Port Canaveral this week | Royal Caribbean Blog

A simulated voyage (also known as a test cruise) is when Royal Caribbean operates its ships without paying passengers in order to demonstrate the Covid-19 protocols onboard are effective.

Test cruises also serve a dual purpose for the cruise line, as a way to give returning crew members a chance to prepare for paying guests later.

The CDC requires ships starting back up to go through a series of steps that prove the new health protocols onboard and simulate a few scenarios to ensure the ship and crew are prepared for any Covid-19 issues that could occur.

The CDC gives cruise lines the option of completing these requirements over one or multiple sailings, but thus far, Royal Caribbean has always completed its test sailings in just a single voyage.

Some cruise lines required at least 95% of its passengers be fully vaccinated, but Royal Caribbean has not and that is because of the line's dedication to families.

Royal Caribbean has been adamant that it wants families to be able to cruise, including children who are not old enough to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

As a result, Royal Caribbean decided to take the extra time to do test cruises so that it could continue to welcome children onboard its ships.

Royal Caribbean International's senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, called the decision "obvious" given how many kids sail with Royal Caribbean, along with the cruise line's dedication to remaining a family brand. "A good 20 to 25 percent of our guests are kids."

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships visited Port Canaveral this week

29 Jan 2021

For the first time in quite a while, two Royal Caribbean ships visited Port Canaveral.

Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas each stopped in Port Canaveral this week for short resupply visits.

Allure of the Seas came into port first on Monday and docked at Terminal 1.

Photos by Paul Crow

Explorer of the Seas arrived in Port Canaveral on Thursday.

Photos by Twangster

Royal Caribbean did not disclose the purpose of the visits, but the safe bet is for resupply.

Throughout the cruise industry shutdown, cruise ships have made periodic visits to select ports to offload waste and bring on new supplies.

In North America, Royal Caribbean has primarily relied on PortMiami for these visits.  Other ports of resupply have included Barbados, Southampton and St. Kitts.

Both Explorer of the Seas and Allure of the Seas recently made the transatlantic crossing after spending their summer in Europe in warm lay up.

Both ships were also in Europe primarily to receive Royal Amplifications in 2020, but those plans had to be postponed until further notice due to the cruise line's current financial situation.

Explorer of the Seas will get limited dry dock in August

09 Jun 2020

Royal Caribbean informed guests booked on Explorer of the Seas that it will cancel scheduled August 2020 sailings in order to get some of the scheduled work done on the ship.

Explorer of the Seas was scheduled for a $110 million Royal Amplification that would have added a number of changes from bow to stern. However, the closure of shipyards and disruption to the supply chain around the world has delayed the work from being done on time

Instead, Explorer of the Seas will undergo a technical dry dock only, where only routine maintenance work will take place. This is similar to what happened to Allure of the Seas as well, which is undergoing that work in Spain.

There is no word on if/when the other changes that were to be added to Explorer of the Seas will occur.

Emails were sent to travel agents and guests to inform them of the newly cancelled Explorer of the Seas sailings.

Guests on affected sailings have the choice of:

125% Future Cruise Credit to re-book a new cruise by December 31, 2021 for sailings departing on or before April 30th, 2022. This will automatically be issued by July 24th, 2020 via email if no action is taken.

Lift and Shift: If you prefer to move your existing booking to a 2021 sailing, you can take advantage of Royal Caribbean's new policy where the cruise line will price protect the original pricing and/or promotion on the same itinerary, length, product, and stateroom category as your original sailing within 4 weeks (before or after) of the original sail date in 2021.

You will need to contact your travel agent by June 25th to take advantage of this option.

100% Refund: if you prefer a full refund, you have until December 31, 2020 to request a refund and deactivate your certificate. You can expect to receive your refund 45 days after you submit your refund request.

If you made pre-cruise purchases, you can opt-in to receive an Onboard Credit in the value of 125% of the total Cruise Planner purchases on your reservation. Click here by June 25th, 2020 to request your higher value credit and we'll email you your credit by July 24th, 2020.

Royal Caribbean puts Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas amplifications on hold due to coronavirus impact

18 Mar 2020

Royal Caribbean has confirmed that the planned amplifications of Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas are on hold, due to the global impact of coronavirus.

Both ships had multi-million dollar amplifications scheduled for this year, but the work has been put on hold and the extend of enhancements to come is being re-evaluated.

Royal Caribbean confirmed on social media what many had feared was the case, following the closure of many European ports, along with Royal Caribbean's decision to cut 2021 capital expenditures.

A statement by Royal Caribbean confirms the post on social media.

In these unprecedented times, in addition to voluntarily suspending our global operations, port closures and travel restrictions have also affected the possibility of moving forward with our amplifications of Explorer of the Seas in Brest, France and Allure of the Seas in Cadiz, Spain this spring. Both amplifications have been put on hold at this time. With global developments rapidly evolving, we are reviewing all options to bring Explorer and Allure into dry dock this year and determining the extent of the enhancements we can implement.

Allure of the Seas was scheduled to undergo a 58-day, $165 million transformation that would have added new features, including the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, completely redesigned Adventure Ocean kids and teens spaces, the first Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Music Hall.

Similarly, Explorer of the Seas was planning to get a $110 million amplification that would have added a number of changes from bow to stern.

Royal Caribbean is currently not operating any cruises because of a month-long suspension of sailings to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Royal Caribbean announces new features coming to Explorer of the Seas

24 Sep 2019

Royal Caribbean announced $110 million in upgrades and enhancements to Explorer of the Seas coming in 2020.

The bow to stern refurbishment will prepare Explorer of the Seas for a summer 2020 season in the Mediterranean and include a number of big changes. Beginning May 7, 2020, Explorer – the first amplified ship to cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) – sets sail on 7- and 9-night itineraries to the best of Italy and the Greek Isles, from Santorini to Mykonos and Crete.

The announced changes to Explorer of the Seas include:

  • Perfect Storm waterslides: Two high-speed racer slides.

  • Reimagined poolscape: New, resort-style look is coming to the pool deck. Hammocks, daybeds, casitas and in-pool loungers will be added.
  • The Lime & Coconut is Royal Caribbean’s signature, poolside bar. The three-level venue is at the heart of the new pool deck and features a rooftop deck.
  • Rejuvenated adults-only Solarium.

  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen: New refresh of Royal Caribbean's signature Italian restaurant. The reimagined trattoria will welcome guests to a casual setting and offer classics with a contemporary flair. From hand-tossed pizzas fresh out of the oven and made to order, to charcuterie delights, the elevated menu caps off this “Sunday supper” experience with a wide selection of wines and limoncellos from many of Italy’s well-known regions.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, the high-energy spot where guests can root for their home team as the game plays across 52 TVs. On offer will be an extensive menu of bar fare favorites with a twist and ice-cold brews, games of all kinds – arcade classics, trivia, tournaments and pool – and the Owner’s Box VIP area.
  • Johnny Rockets Express will be added to the pool deck to serve up classic American fare, including spiked milkshakes.
  • A standalone Starbucks comes aboard with its signature menu of drinks and pastries.
  • Glow-in-the-dark laser tag: Coming to Studio B, guests can fight in the Clash for the Crystal City and pit the Yetis and Showshifters against each other for, "the ultimate faceoff to escape extinction"

  • Revamped Adventure Ocean: A major makeover to the cruise line's award-winning program for younger guests and their families.  It will feature an open, imaginative layout with whimsical and immersive activities. Kids 6 to 12 years old can choose their own adventure, while babies and 3- to 5-year-olds enjoy specially designed spaces for each age group

  • An exclusive teens hangout will sport a whole new look and features, including the latest in movies, gaming and music, and the addition of a private outdoor deck.

While Explorer of the Seas is in the Eastern Mediterranean, she will be joined by Allure of the Seas in  the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona.

Following her European season, Explorer of the Seas will set course for the Caribbean. Guests can choose from 5- and 9-night Eastern and Southern Caribbean sailings, roundtrip from Miami, including visits to Royal Caribbean’s new private island destination – Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Explorer of the Seas is the fourth ship in the Voyager Class to be transformed as part of the cruise line’s Royal Amplified fleet modernization effort. 

Explorer of the Seas makes maiden call to Newcastle, Australia

11 Feb 2019

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas made its maiden call to Port of Newcastle on Sunday, February 10.

Explorer of the Seas is the third largest cruise ship based in Australia. It’s estimated the megaliner’s visit injected more than $600,000 in a single day into the Newcastle, Hunter and Port Stephens regional economies in passenger spend alone.

Royal Caribbean’s managing director Susan Bonner said that Explorer of the Seas’ call is one of four to the Port of Newcastle for the 2018/19 cruise season by Royal Caribbean International and sister brands.

“Newcastle’s vibrant city centre coupled with easy access to world class beaches, coastal countryside and rolling vineyards makes it an incredibly popular port of call amongst both our Australian and international guests. We receive consistently positive feedback from our guests about their time in Newcastle, particularly for friendliness of locals,” said Ms Bonner.

“We’re delighted to be bringing Explorer of the Seas to Newcastle twice this season, returning on Saturday 16 February. Our sister company Celebrity Cruises has called at Newcastle twice already this summer, and looking ahead to next season, we can’t wait to bring our guests here on four occasions”.

Photo tour of Junior Suite stateroom on Explorer of the Seas

21 Jul 2018

Lots of Royal Caribbean fans relish a stay in a Junior Suite (JS) and today, we have a look at one of the Junior Suites from Explorer of the Seas to give you an idea of what to expect if you book a similar stateroom.

We stayed in this particular room aboard a June 2018 Explorer of the Seas sailing from Seattle, Washington. These photos come from stateroom 9614 on deck 9, which is on the "hump" of the ship.

This type of Junior Suite offers 277 square feet of living space.

A private balcony offers 50 square feet of space outside.

Top 8 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas hidden secrets

05 Jul 2018

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas offers sailings that span the globe and we have a few lesser-known tidbits about Explorer of the Seas that you may want to know about prior to getting onboard.

Hot tub in the spa

Walking around Explorer of the Seas' pool deck, you will find some great pool options including the ever popular hot tub.  Did you know there is a bonus hot tub in the Vitality Fitness Center that you can use anytime?

Located at the entrance of the Fitness Center is a rather large hot tub that is available for use by all guests. Not only is this hot tub larger than the ones on the pool deck, but it also is great if the weather outdoors is not exactly pool weather.

Complimentary sauna and steam rooms

Speaking of the Fitness Center, Explorer of the Seas also offers complimentary steam room and sauna room access.

Right across from the aforementioned hot tub is the Fitness Center changing rooms, which also have access to the steam and sauna rooms.  Feel free to use either venue during your cruise, as there is no additional cost to them on Explorer of the Seas.

Restrooms with a view

In places like Alaska, where the view outdoors never ceases to amaze, you may want a great view outdoors all the time.  On Explorer of the Seas, the men's and women's restroom on deck 11 aft offer not only the necessary facilities, but also a fantastic view outside.

A floor-to-ceiling window greets guests in the public restroom outside the Windjammer.

Peek-A-Boo bridge

One of the best features of Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class ships has to be is the Peek-A-Boo bridge feature, where guests can peer into the bridge of Explorer of the Seas almost any time.

The observation window allows guests to look down onto the bridge and observe what the officers are up to in their daily navigational duties.  

To reach the Peek-A-Boo bridge, head up to deck 11 and walk past the sliding doors that go forward of the Solarium and do not seem to lead anywhere.

From there, keep walking forward until you reach the front of the deck and you will see an area that provides a view of the bridge.

Find the ship's Godmother

It is not difficult to locate, but there is a small plaque notating Explorer of the Seas' Godmother, Three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Every Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a ceremonial Godmother, who is selected to christen a new cruise ship when it launches.  Joyner-Kersee, who became the first woman to score 7,000 points in the 1986 heptathlon, was the second Olympian to christen a Royal Caribbean ship, following figure skater Katarina Witt.

You can find a plaque dedicated to Ms. Joyner-Kersee on Deck 4 near the aft elevator bank.

Couch in Windjammer

If you are looking for arguably the most comfortable spot to enjoy the many bounties found in the Windjammer, try one of the tables that offers couch seating.

Towards the back of the Windjammer in the aft seating area, you will find a few tables that offer a couch on either side of the table. Don't dawdle, because these seats go quickly.

Main dining room design

While dining in the main dining room, be sure to check out the amazing art and design of the main dining room of Explorer of the Seas.

The stunning three-level formal dining room on Explorer of the Seas is linked by a grand staircase, dramatic fluted, gold-leaf columns, golden velvet curtains, and a domed ceiling with a gold sky burst rays. The Sapphire Dining Room features a gilded sunburst of gold and silver leaf that bathes the three-story dining room in a luxurious glow.

A series of intricate mosaics adorn the walls (covering an area of 663 sq. ft.) of the dining rooms. The murals, rendered in stone and glass mosaic, depict the constellations in the night skies present at the time of their global discoveries.


Whether you are looking for the perfect spot for sail away, or just a great place to enjoy the view, Explorer of the Seas' helipad is the perfect location.

Located on the bow, guests can walk to the helicopter pad and enjoy the unobstructed views that you can only get from the helicopter pad. 

From the helicopter pad, guests can enjoy a near 360-degree view of what is surrounding Explorer of the Seas.

To access the helicopter pad, go outside on deck 5 and then walk forward, climb up a set of stairs and continue walking forward until you reach the helicopter pad.

Did we miss any Explorer of the Seas secrets? Share them in our comments!

Royal Caribbean released a new six-night Tasmania sailing onboard Explorer of the Seas

04 May 2017

Royal Caribbean has released a new six-night Tasmania cruise onboard Explorer of the Seas for later this year.

Departing Sydney on Saturday, December 9, 2017, the six-night round-trip cruise includes two port days and three days at sea. The voyage calls to Hobart, Tasmania and Melbourne, Australia.

“Many of our new customers opt for shorter cruises of up to six nights for their first time at sea, and once they get a taste for the fun, convenience and value of ocean cruising with Royal - they’re hooked!” said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australia and NZ.

“This cruise offers guests the perfect way to explore our own beautiful backyard, while treating themselves to the huge range of dining, entertainment and activities onboard,” Armstrong concluded.

Design Beauty: Main dining room on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

25 Aug 2016

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are as beautiful to look as they are fun to cruise aboard, and the sheer beauty of these ships should not be overlooked by guests.  Royal Caribbean designed its cruise ships to be innovative, both in what they offer for guests to do, as well as design.  Where other cruise lines tend to base their ship designs on past patterns, Royal Caribbean has created its own tradition.

Given how recognizable Royal Caribbean ships are, this is the first in a series of blog posts to look at the beautiful designs that encompass a Royal Caribbean ship.  Hopefully this will provide insight into the design of these areas, as well as highlight the beautiful and creative designs that shape these magnificent ships.

A focal point of the cruise experience is dinner, and Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas has perhaps one of the most striking dining rooms available in its main dining room. Today it is simply the Sapphire Dining Room, but for many years it had a different name that helps explain why its dining room looks the way that it does.

The stunning three-level formal dining room on Explorer of the Seas is linked by a grand staircase, dramatic fluted, gold-leaf columns, golden velvet curtains, and a domed ceiling with a gold sky burst rays. The Sapphire Dining Room features a gilded sunburst of gold and silver leaf that bathes the three-story dining room in a luxurious glow. 

Lush carpets, classical music and white glove service all accentuate the terrific food served in here.

Prior to being renamed to the Sapphire Dining Room, each floor of the dining room bore the name of a famous explorer from history: Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco de Gama.  A series of intricate mosaics adorne the walls (covering an area of 663 sq. ft.) of the dining rooms.  The murals, rendered in stone and glass mosaic, depict the constellations in the night skies present at the time of their global discoveries.

Subscribe to Explorer of the Seas